What is it?
DRAGON’S BLOOD TREE
From afar, they look rather like the cartoon trees a young child might draw, or huge umbrellas blown inside out. Dragon’s blood trees are unique to the desert island of Socotra, a hotbed of evolution lying off the coasts of Yemen and Ethiopia, where soils are thin and rain scarce. Their unusual shape traps precious moisture from sea mists. Water condenses on the trees’ waxy leaves, then dribbles down branches to the grateful roots. The dense foliage helps to reduce water loss. Why the strange name? If cut, the bark ‘bleeds’ a reddish resin, which has long been tapped and dried for sale as a medicine or dye. According to legend, the trees grow where blood was spilled during a titanic battle between an elephant and dragon.